In this post, we will delve into the world of headphone modifications by performing numerous modifications on the Samson SR-850. The Samson SR-850 is an inexpensive and relatively good set of reference headphones with two significant shortfalls: the SR-850 has a fixed, non-removable cable, and the SR-850 has a slightly tremble-heavy sound. We will be addressing these shortfalls by performing the following modifications:

  • Detachable cable modification
  • Filter Swap (to improve the headphone sound profile to a more neutral sound)
  • Earpad swap (for improved comfort)

Two components will be required for the detachable cable modification: a 3.5mm female jack and a new 3D-printed headphone end cap. 3.5mm Female jacks can be found on Amazon, and the STL for the new end cap can be downloaded here.

The new end cap will replace the end cap on the side of the headphone where the 3.5mm cable is connected.

The modification is performed by removing the end cap on the side where the cable is attached. This is done by carefully removing the nameplate on the end cap and unscrewing the single screw underneath it. 

This will expose the wiring of where the 3.5mm cable is connected to the headphone drivers. The cable can then be de-soldered and the 3.5mm female jack connected as shown in the below illustration:

After soldering the female jack, as shown above, insert the jack into the new 3D-printed end cap and re-assemble the end cap using the original screw, then reattach the nameplate (some glue may be required to attach the nameplate). Depending on the 3.5mm female jack used, some minor cutting away of the end cap internal structure may be required. Additionally, it is a good idea to secure the 3.5mm female jack in the end cap with a dot of hot glue to increase the jack rigidity.

The following two modifications can be completed at the same time. The first step is to remove the ear pads from the headphone, which will remove the filters as well as they are located inside the ear pads ring. The next step is to insert the new filters into the new ear pads and then install the new ear pads onto the headphones. The filters I selected are slightly thicker than the original SR-850 filters. This will soften the tremble of the SR-850, which tends to be exaggerated in its sound profile and move it towards a more neutral sound profile.

The ear pads I selected are the Transtek Velour Black replacement ear pads for the Samson SR-850. They are 30mm thick, breathable memory foam ear pads that offer an extremely comfortable wearing experience. These ear pads slightly reduce the headphones’ sound stage but significantly increase their comfort, so a worthwhile tradeoff, in my opinion.

Here are some photos of the end results:

Headphone modification is an interesting and rewarding pastime that is rather addictive. I have modified all the sets of headphones I use to varying degrees to improve the experience and enjoyment I get from them.


REVIEW – Audio-Technica ATH-M40x

A few months ago I had to replace my daily driver headphones after my Samson Z55 headphones broke after nearly four years of everyday use (the bracket connecting one of the ear cups snapped off). After doing some research and being unable to source another Samson Z55, I decided on getting the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x.

The ATH-M40x are closed-back dynamic headphones with 40mm rare earth magnet drivers, with an impedance of 35 ohms, making them very easy to power.

The headphones have a frequency response of 15 – 24,000 Hz and are tuned flat for incredibly accurate sound monitoring across the entire frequency range, thus making them excellent studio reference headphones.

The headphone consists of a mainly plastic construction with a folding design, making them easy to pack away in a travel bag.

As with most decent headphones, the ATH-M40x has a detachable cable. The one thing to note is that the cable connects to the headphones via a 2.5mm jack, instead of a 3.5mm jack, as with many headphones.

The ATH-M40x headphones have a very comfortable fit, except for the included ear pads, which I found too small and caused unpleasant pressure on my ears, a common problem I have found with most earpads included with headphones. I resolved this issue by replacing the earpads with the Brainwavz Hybrid Memory Foam Ear Pads, available on Amazon for around $25.

I enjoy the sound quality and tuning of the ATH-M40x, and after a few months of usages, I am impressed by the quality they offer, especially at the $99 price point. Although the ATH-M40x will not be to everyone’s tastes, especially for people who prefer heavier bass, I can highly recommend them for anyone looking for a comfortable neutral headphone.

The Audio-Technica ATH-M40x is available on Amazon for $99.

REVIEW – Audio-Technica ATH-M40x